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News watch February 2012: today's auto industry news

Published: 29 February 2012

Welcome to CAR Magazine's news aggregator as we round up the daily stories in the auto industry. Top tip: news summaries are added from the top hour-by-hour

Wednesday 29 February 2012
• Following on from yesterday's news of a cross-holding between PSA and GM, it now appears that Peugeot Citroen would offer a €1bn rights issue to create cash and strip back jobs as part of its proposed alliance with GM (Automotive News Europe
• The Bloomberg Riskless Return Ranking, a survey of investor performance, suggests that Kia has outperformed all 22 other car makers with a risk-adjusted return of 9.2% in the past five years. Second highest was Hyundai, whose shares rose 4.8% in the same period (Bloomberg)
• Fisker has a new chief executive officer, as founder Henrik Fisker moves to executive chairman. The new boss is Tom LaSorda, the former top man at Chrysler pre-bankruptcy (Fisker)

Tuesday 28 February 2012
• General Motors is in talks to buy a 5% to 7% stake in PSA Peugeot Citroen, according to reports by news agencies Bloomberg and Reuters. The deal, which would reinforce planned alliance on car building, would be worth around $240 million (Automotive News Europe)

Monday 27 February 2012
• Volkswagen is close to finalising the deal to buy the remaining 50.1% of Porsche that it does not yet own. The takeover has been fraught with legal, financial and other hurdles, delaying the completion (Bloomberg)
• Nissan plans to double the use of common and shared components in its next-generation vehicles. The increased commonality is part of a bid to improve profitability by 30% (Automotive News Europe)
• Bentley forecasts annual sales of its SUV of around 25,000 units a year, according to Wolfgang Durheimer, CEO of Bentley Motors (Automotive News Europe)
• Chinese car makers are benefiting after the government banned overseas models from the choice lists of official vehicle fleets (Bloomberg)

Friday 24 February 2012
• Volkswagen is set to announce a doubling of profit after tax in 2011, according to German reports. Wolfsburg is tipped to announce a huge increase in profits to €16 billion on 12 March. In 2011, VW posted profits after tax of €7.2bn (Automotive News Europe
• General Motors says it has restarted production of the Chevrolet Volt range-extender at its Detroit-Hamtramck factory after a pause for recall activity. GM has however cut its annual forecast from 45,000 vehicles and says it will match supply to demand (Detroit News
• Artega is preparing to show a new convertible at the Geneva motor show, according to web reports. It's rumoured to be a roadster version of the existing GT coupe (Autoblog)

Thursday 23 February 2012
• Ford has increased pay for board members by 25%, the Blue Oval has confirmed. They will receive $250,000 as a retainer, up from $200,000; Edsel Ford, the grandson of Henry and a director, gets $650,000 a year as a consultant (Bloomberg)
• Nissan has announced a recall of around 250,000 Micras, Jukes and Infiniti M models over a direct injection rail glitch which could in extreme circumstances lead to a leak (Automotive News Europe)
• PSA chief executive Philippe Varin has confirmed that GM and Peugeot Citroen are in talks over a possible cooperation. The talks revolve around a plan to reduce losses in Europe and over possible joint ventures, rather than a capital exchange (Automotive News Europe)
• Volvo plans a joint venture in China with its parent company Geely to manufacture cars locally. Full 'concrete' details will be announced within two months, according to Michael Ning, a spokesman in Beijing (Automotive News Europe)

Wednesday 22 February 2012
• Daimler has cut the executive pay to CEO Dieter Zetsche despite record profits at Merc's parent company. His pay has fallen to an estimated €8,650,000, down from €8.69m in 2010 (Automotive News Europe)
• Shares in Peugeot jump 15% as the company says it is in talks about 'possible cooperations and alliances'. A French government minister claimed Peugeot was talking to GM, but the company said it routinely spoke to other car makers (BBC News)
• In a brief statement, PSA confirmed: 'In the context of its globalisation strategy and improving its operational performance, PSA Peugeot Citroen looks at potential cooperations and alliances. Discussions are taking place and there can be no certainty at this stage that these discussions will result in any agreement' (Peugeot)
• Chinese car maker Great Wall has opened its first European car factory in Bulgaria. It will build up to 50,000 Hover 4x4, Steed truck and Voleex minis by 2013 (Automotive News Europe)
• Jaguar Land Rover parent Tata Motors says it will double investment at its British premium offshoot to £1.5 billion a year. Tata has beneifted from JLR's profits in recent years, so plans to double the £700m-800m the company previously invested in capital expenditure and product development (Automotive News Europe)
• Mazda, Japan's least profitable car maker, is looking to raise $2.9 billion through selling stock and a loan from banks. It comes as Mazda prepares to announce the worst losses in 11 years, expected to top 100 billion yen (Bloomberg)

Tuesday 21 February 2012
• A tumbleweed day in the CAR office. Apologies!

Monday 20 February 2012
• Ferrari delivered 7195 cars in 2011, an increase of 9.5%, while its revenues exceeded €2bn for the first time ever. Trading profit was also up by 3.2%, to €312m, while net profit was up slightly on 2010 to €209m (Ferrari)
• From 1 July 2012 all drivers in France (both French and visiting drivers) will need to carry a breathalyser kit in their cars, with €11 fines being introduced from November 2012 if drivers fail to comply with this rule (Institue of Advanced Motorists)

Friday 17 February 2012
• Audi has announced UK prices for the limited edition A1 Quattro. Just 333 units of this 252bhp four-wheel drive hot hatch are being built, and just 19 are destined for Britain. Each will cost £41,020, and Audi says 'the vast majority' are already sold (Audi UK)
• BMW has opened its bigger ever showroom, in Abu Dhabi. Accomodating BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce and BMW motorcycles, the 35,000sqm showroom has taken three years to build and costs BMW's importer Abu Dhabi Motors €62m (BMW)
• The Volkswagen Group delivered 652,500 cars in January 2012, a 1.3% increase of the 644,200 vehicles delivered in the same period in 2011 (Volkswagen) 

Thursday 16 February 2012
• Porsche has named its new sub-Cayenne SUV. It’ll be called Macan, and it’ll go on sale in spring 2013 – full story here (Porsche)
• Bristol Cars has appointed a new general manager and a new senior advisor. Julian Ramshaw is the new GM, joining Bristol from the Sytner Group where he was business manager, and the company has also signed up Sir George White, whose late father founded the Bristol Car Company in 1945 (Bristol)
• Korean tyre company Kumho has appointed Kim Chang-kyu as its new president and CEO, with immediate effect (Kumho)
• UK car manufacturing has hit a 16-month high, with 127,382 vehicles produced in January 2012, a rise of 15.6% over the same period in 2011. UK engine production was up 5% to 227,161, and UK commercial vehicles fell by 1.2% to 9844 units (Society of Motor Manufactuers and Traders)

Wednesday 15 February 2012
• Lexus has announced UK prices for the new GS. The 2.5-litre V6 GS250 SE starts at £32,995, while the cheapest GS450h is £44,995, with the Premier and F Sport models topping the range at £50,995 (Lexus)
• Chevrolet’s Camaro will cost from £34,995 when UK sales start in March 2012. The Convertible is £39,995, and both feature a 426bhp 6.2-litre V8, while the £1500 auto’ option reduces power to 399bhp (Chevrolet)
• VW delivered 419,200 vehicles to customers worldwide in January 2012, a 0.1% increase over the 418,600 cars in the same period in 2011 (Volkswagen)
• Strong Jaguar Land Rover profits in the third quarter of 2011 (£440m, up 57% over the same period in 2010) thanks to increase sales in China and Russia have helped parent company Tata Motors offset weakness in its home market and report better-than-expect third-quarter profits (Financial Times, subscription required) 
• Britain’s trade deficit in cars is at its lowest level since 1976, with high demand for models from Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley and Mini, and helped by the relatively week demand for imports as 2011 UK registrations dropped 4% to 1.94m (Financial Times, subscription required)  
• PSA Peugeot Citroen plans to sell €1.5bn worth of assets, after reporting sharply lower earning in 2011. Net profit in 2011 was €588m, down from €1.13bn in 2010, figures that PSA chief executive Philippe Varin described as ‘disappointing’ (Financial Times, subscription required)

Tuesday 14 February 2012
• BMW is going to court in a bid to stop its unions blocking plans to hire more temporary staff at its Leipzig factory in eastern Germany (Automotive News Europe)
• Former GM Europe chief Nick Reilly, who retires in March, is taking up a couple of board positions with companies planning to expand in Asia. The 61-year-old previously ran GM's Korean operations at Chevrolet (Automotive News Europe)
• BMW has been fined $3 million in the US for delays in reporting recall notices on around 338,700 vehicles in 2010 (Bloomberg)

Monday 13 February 2012
• Audi will select a location for its new US manufacturing site in summer 2012, according to Michael Macht, the head of Volkswagen's manufacturing. It is not yet clear which model it will build, but it would be likely to be an SUV and production could start two and a half years after the decision is made, he said. It's part of VW's ambitious expansion - it plans more than 100 manufacturing locations worldwide by 2018 (Automotive News Europe
• Bentley is preparing an SUV concept to show at the Geneva show, according to a report in Auto Week (Auto Week)
• Ford is shaking up some of its senior management. Chief financial officer Lewis Booth and Derrick Kuzak, group vice president for global product development, will retire on 1 April, replaced by Bob Shanks and Raj Nair, respectively (Detroit News)
• Ford

Friday 10 February 2012
• Daimler will not strip back on its headcount to make itself more profitable, says the personnel boss Wilfried Porth. He says that staff accounts for less than a fifth of Mercedes' group costs (Automotive News Europe)

Thursday 9 February 2012
• SAIC Motor, the parent company of MG Motor, says it has become the first Chinese car maker to post 4 million annual sales. The 2011 total was 12% up on the previous year's (MG Motor)
• Mercedes owner Daimler today announced record results in 2011. Net profits shot up 29% to €6.03 billion (£5bn) while overall revenues increased 9%. Why so? Because total sales at the group, which includes Smart and its vans division, rose 11% to 2.11 million (BBC News)
• Volkswagen is sniffing around a deal with Proton to boost its manufacturing presence in Malaysia, reports ANE (Automotive News Europe
• Niche Brit sports car maker Morgan will unveil an electric roadster with a manual transmission at the 2012 Geneva motor show. The e-drivetrain comes from UK specialist Zytek (Automotive News Europe)
• Porsche reports a 5% jump in sales in January 2012. The biggest increase came in Germany, where sales rose 16% (Porsche)
• BMW, too, reports a strong start to the year. It's just announced its best ever January, with 112,163 vehicles sold (BMW)

Wednesday 8 February 2012
• Nissan today reports a 3.6% increase in profits in the final quarter of 2011. Japan's second biggest car maker announced net profits of $1.1bn (£674m), up from $1.03bn in the same quarter of 2010. Nissan said it sold 1.2 million vehicles in that period, up 20% (BBC News)
• Mitsubishi is willing to sell its Dutch factory for €1, according to politicians in the Netherlands. An owner would however have to guarantee 1500 staff keep their jobs (Automotive News Europe)
• Meanwhile Opel and Vauxhall are reported to be weighing up big cuts at European factories as losses mount in the region. The Wall Street Journal reports that job losses and factory closures are being considered, possibly in the UK (Automotive News Europe)

Tuesday 7 February 2012
• Fisker has suspended production at its Delaware plant and laid off 26 staff, while it renegotiates its $529 million federal loan. It has already received $193m from the Department of Energy, but the balance is conditional on sales and production targets for the Karma - which the AP news agency suggests Fisker has missed (Automotive News)
• Oil giant BP this morning announced a huge hike in annual profits - it made $23.9bn in 2011, compared with a $4.9bn loss in 2010 (BBC News)
• Porsche is targeting a 17% increase in US sales in 2012, according to dealer sources in America. They claim that the German sports car maker expects to shift 34,000 vehicles Stateside this year (Automotive News Europe)
• Renault and cooperation partner Daimler will unveil a new small Mercedes van this autumn, based on the Renault Kangoo (Automotive News Europe)

Monday 6 February 2012
• New car sales in the UK remained static - up 0.03%, or 42 cars - in January 2012. A total of 128,853 vehicles were registered. January is traditionally a quite month in Britain, accounting for 7% of annual registrations; the new plate change in March typically makes up 18% of the annual total (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) 
• Honda will show its new 1.6-litre diesel engine at the 2012 Geneva motor show. It's the first of a suite of new engines being developed under the Earth Dreams Technology banner in the next three years (Honda)
• Mitsubishi has announced it will close its only European car factory at Born in the Netherlands, as production of the Colt has slipped to just 50,000 units annually. Mitsu had hoped to replace it with other models, but the economic model has not been found, the company said (BBC News)
• Mitsubishi said in a statement: 'Due to the wildly fluctuating operating environment which automobile manufacturers currently face, MMC (Mitsubishi Motors) could not come up with a reasonable solution to utilise NedCar [Netherlands Car]'. The factory was set up in 1991 as a joint venture between Volvo, Mitsubishi and the Dutch government
• The receivers at Saab are not keen on a $446 million bid from Chinese car maker Youngman to buy bankrupt Saab. Youngman made a bid to buy all of the stricken car maker and intends to restart production in Trollhattan, but the receivers reportedly want to sell off the company in chunks as it would raise more money (Automotive News Europe

Friday 3 February 2012
• Jaguar Land Rover plans to partner Chery in China to fasttrack plans to manufacture in the world's fastest growing market. They have applied for regulatory clearance to manufacture locally (Automotive News Europe)
• Fiat is prioritising its replacement for the Sedici ahead of the planned compact SUV, which will be codeveloped with Jeep (Automotive News Europe)
• Subaru has announced its results for the third quarter of the tax year ending 31 March 2012. Sales overseas were down 14% on the same period a year earlier, down to 318,000 vehicles. Japanese sales dipped slightly too, down 4% to 114,000. Result? Revenues slipped 12% to 1,029 billion yen (Fuji Heavy Industries)
• Tata chairman Ratan Tata opened Bladon Jets' new engineering centre in Coventry yesterday. The Indian car maker took a minority stake in Bladon in September 2010 - its turbines powered the hybrid system in the C-X75 concept supercar (Tata Motors)

Thursday 2 February 2012
• Lamborghini will unveil an SUV at the Beijing auto show, according to ANE. This confirms the story in CAR Magazine in 2011 claiming a Bentley and Lamborghini SUV were being developed (Automotive News Europe)
• An advertising agency has fallen into unchartered territory when it named a cold weather front in Europe 'Cooper' after the Mini sold by its client. Germany's meterology institute allows the sponsorship of weather systems - but the front in question has caused the deaths of dozens of people (BBC News)
• Toyota's GT86 will cost €10,000 more in Europe than in Japan, thanks to the perilous yen exchange rate. The company said the rear-drive coupe will cost 1.99 million yen in Japan (€19,900) - but the Euro versions will cost nearer €30,000 (Automotive News Europe)
• Fisker has launched in Canada. As part of its global roll-out, it now sells hybrid cars in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver (Fisker)
• Porsche's Leipzig factory in eastern Germany increased production by 47% in 2011 - making the 93,838 output figure a record (Porsche)

Wednesday 1 February 2012
• The Chrysler group today posted 2011 full-year profits of $183 million - reversing a $652m loss in 2010. It has now met all three key criteria in its restructuring process, looking like a wise buy for Fiat (Chrysler)
• The Renault-Nissan Alliance has posted record sales of 8,029,222 vehicles in 2011, up by 10.3% on a year before. It's the third consecutive year of growth - and the alliance now builds 10.7% of the global market (Renault-Nissan)
• Ford has picked 12 UK universities to award 100 student scholarships worth £1 million in a bid to attract the top engineering talent to work at the Blue Oval (Ford)
• The UK government has dropped plans to overhaul the annual MOT test for older cars. It was considering switching the first test from three years to four years after purchase, and making the tests bi-annual rather than yearly (BBC News)
• American car sales continue to forge ahead. January's figures suggest an annualised sales total of 13.4 million vehicles in the US thanks to pent-up demand (Automotive News)
• Ford plans to shutdown its Genk plant in Belgium for an average of one extra day a month this year to counter the slump in European demand. It employs around 5500 staff, who manufacture the Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy (Automotive News Europe)
• French new car sales dropped 21% in January 2012, according to new stats out this week. The drop reflects the ending of new-car incentives a year ago - there was a rush at the end of that government promotion (Automotive News Europe)
• More than 400,000 jobs have been lost in the US car making supply chain since 2000 - and a further 1.6m are at risk on account of Chinese trading practices, according to three new reports out today (Detroit News)

>> Click here to read News Watch January 2012